The Scariest Thing
I have often thought of buying up such animated Halloween decorations as I can find (there aren't that
many), saving them for the Christmas season, decorating the lawn with them and making a home video
titled "Nightmare on 34th Street." Now you have to admit: that's so silly it's
What's the scariest Halloween nightmare you can imagine? A U.S. assault on Iran? Cheney as dictator?
Jerry Falwell as dictator? Dubya's finger on the nu-ku-lar button? A thorough Diebolding of next
back in the news?
C'mon. Give us your worst...
U.S. troops suffered their
100th death in Iraq in October
Dad's ashes are in an urn in the living room. I think I just heard a stirring from that direction. Of
his generation, in both my parents' families, all the men fought in W.W. II, all saw combat, two were
wounded and one died (though not in combat but rather in an accident while in service). They were not
fighting for Bush's royal right to pretend presidential perfection as a "war president," and I doubt
their successors among today's younger generation in the military signed up for that purpose either.
Many times in the history of our republic, our troops have lived and died to buy us our liberties and
rights, including one right we exercise this week: the right to vote. The Iraq war is not one of
those times. Mr. Bush sent The October Hundred to die in Iraq for his own political errand, for
the sake of his own inability to admit his responsibility for a grievous error, a tragic mistake, a
debacle and a catastrophe.
And so I dedicate my vote to The October Hundred, and to any more American troops who may die
needlessly this month in the worst instance of political abuse of presidential power I have seen in my
lifetime. (Even Johnson eventually understood he could not "stay the course." Then again, Johnson, for
all his foibles and aggressive wielding of power, never saw himself as king.) Somehow, the abuse must
end. I have voted, as best I am able, to end Bush's abuse of our troops and of us all. Consider it my
tiny political payback for a political act so heinous there are scarcely words to describe it.
How many more will die needlessly in November?
How many in December?
How many in 2007?
How many in 2008?
Everybody Needs An Outlet
Mine is right around the corner...
At a Mexican restaurant Friday night with some of Stella's friends, we discovered that one fellow and
I were taking pics of the same clouds within five minutes of each other. His were even more
spectacular. I guess you could call the coincidence
"More Mr. Nice Sky."
On Finishing What You Start
points us to
Nicole Belle's post
on Crooks and Liars, in turn taken largely from
of GlobalResearch, which got some of its material from
(Whew. That's a lot of links.) The short version? The U.S., along with four or more other countries
(apparently France, Britain, Bahrain and Kuwait), has initiated war games in the Persian Gulf, war
games which, considering Bush's nature, could be a pretext for confrontation and war with Iran:
There is a massive concentration of US naval power in the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Two US
naval strike groups are deployed: USS Enterprise, and USS Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group. The
naval strike groups have been assigned to fighting the "global war on terrorism."
Concurrent with ths concentration of US Naval power, the US is also involved in military exercises in
the Persian Gulf, which consists in "interdicting ships in the Gulf carrying weapons of mass
destruction and missiles"
The exercise, set for Oct. 31, is the 25th to be organized under the U.S.-led 66-member Proliferation
Security Initiative and the first to be based in the Gulf near Bahrain, across from Iran, the
A senior U.S. official insisted the exercise is not aimed specifically at Iran, although it reinforces
a U.S. strategy aimed at strengthening America’s ties with states in the Gulf, where Tehran and
Washington are competing for influence"
Is this for real... does Bush really intend to attack Iran before elections... or is it all a feint to
scare the hell out of the American public?
It scares the hell out of me, though not with the result Bush probably intended. Back in my childhood,
my father offered me one sentence of advice about getting into fistfights:
Son, don't start something you can't finish.
Do you think Poppy ever troubled to tell Junior the same thing? Somehow, I doubt it.
Bush is a gambler, and a rash one at that. High stakes not only do not trouble him; he actually seems
to prefer making impossible wagers. Unfortunately, it's not his inherited cash that he's betting; it's
what remains of our military,
and the security of our nation, that are on the table.
Will Bush pull the trigger? My sense is that he will, with or without the assistance of allies; the
question is when he will do so. Perhaps that will be decided by Rove, based on an evaluation of
potential gains or losses in the elections. What do you think? Will Bush do it, and if so, when? Will
Congress give him authorization, or will he just use his "unitary executive" power?
Wrap Her Up, I'll Take Her
Tabitha (Samantha? I'm not sure) loves Stella, but is not so sure about the wrap, however colorful it
In the background, Gypsy Lady the Sculpture Chair, having no cat at the moment, makes do with a soft,
squeezable pillow. I'm sure G.L. had lots of company during all the thunderstorms yesterday; she is
one of Samantha's favorite hiding places.
Bush's Second A Fence
has to be the most blatant... and arguably most ridiculous... election year ploy:
WASHINGTON — President Bush signed a bill today authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-
Mexico border, hoping to give Republican candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they're
tough on illegal immigration.
The measure Bush is putting into law today before heading for campaign stops in Iowa and Michigan
offers no money for the fence project covering one-third of the 2,100-mile border.
Its cost is not known, although a homeland security spending measure the president signed earlier this
month makes a $1.2 billion down payment on the project. The money also can be used for access roads,
vehicle barriers, lighting, high-tech equipment and other tools to secure the border.
"A fence will slow people down by a minute or two, but if you don't have the agents to stop them it
does no good. We're not talking about some impenetrable barrier," T.J. Bonner, president of the
National Border Patrol Council, a union representing Border Patrol agents, said Wednesday.
[U.S. Sen. John] Cornyn [R-TX] said he voted for the fence because he wanted to help demonstrate that
Congress was serious about border security.
"The choice we were presented was: Are we going to vote to enhance border security, or against it?"
Cornyn said. "I think that's how the vote was viewed."
The real irony is that people will discover that, after billions of their tax dollars are spent on
this probably ineffective boondoggle, if by chance it should actually work, it will raise everyone's
grocery bill. I don't have any easy answers to the border problems... too many cultural issues are
simply being ignored amid all the overheated GOP rhetoric... but this fence is just about the dumbest
idea our "leaders" have come up with yet. You have the power to use your vote to send these ignorant
people home: do it.
Dark Days - UPDATED
UPDATE: Kayla came home!
(Original post follows...)
In Houston at the moment, it's not just a metaphor: it's dark, and there's a drizzling rain. Thousands
of miles away, metaphorically, it's darker still, at
place: his dog Kayla is missing. She's been gone since yesterday afternoon. If you know NTodd, go give
him a virtual hug. He needs it. And even if you (like me) do not believe in the effectiveness of
prayer, say one for Kayla anyway. Can't hurt; might help.
And Kayla, if you're reading this, please call home!
(Now here's an irony: over the course of my writing this post, the sun broke through the clouds here,
quickly and unexpectedly. Take that however you want.)
Have You Ever Wondered...
- ... what Walt Whitman
reading his own poetry? This 36-second .mp3 taken from a wax cylinder has not been cleaned up, but
one gets the feeling Whitman really meant what he wrote. Just about now, all of us could use a
dose of Whitman's unreserved enthusiasm for America. (H/T
- ... how Chris Bell is doing?
And the trend is in the right direction for Bell. Keep your fingers crossed, and be sure to vote.
Word is, the Dallas Morning News will report [on 10/25] on a statewide poll conducted by Brian
Epstein for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. The poll will show Rick Perry is in deep trouble --
garnering just 32% support of those sampled -- with Chris Bell nipping at his heels at 27%, Carole
Strayhorn trailing with 20%, and Kinky Friedman cratering in single digits. This is huge news,
... If [Perry] runs at 32% on Election Day he will likely be
retired from his current position.
- ... what the cleverest blog names in Houston are?
Dwight Silverman gives us a list. Yes, the YDD made the list. Yes, there are many other blogs
on the list that are worthy of your attention.
I'm off to the virtual paperwork. See you this evening, if I'm lucky.
Private Gomer Pyle's classic line seemed appropriate to this post at Daily Kos by
Who Supports The Troops?
Democrats, As It Turns Out...
Via Bob Geiger, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America took a look at 324 legislative votes in
the last five years which affected American troops and veterans. Legislative proposals included
veterans' benefits, healthcare, and medical research dedicated towards injured soldiers (head
injuries, etc.) Based on these votes, IAVA calculated which senators and congressmen had a history of
supporting the troops, and which didn't, and graded them on a curve.
You can see the full results at the IAVA website, here. But Bob has put the Senate rankings in order
of letter grade, and produced this handy chart. As you'll note, based on the over 300 votes the IAVA
used in its calculation, all Senate Democrats have been more supportive of the troops -- when it comes
to their actual votes, over the past five years -- than any of the Senate Republicans.
Hunter follows with Bob Geiger's table of evaluations of senators' votes on issues of significance to
veterans. Does it surprise you that every Democrat voted in support of the troops more often than
every Republican? Go take a look at the table. Want to support the troops? Vote for the Democratic
candidates in your state's U.S. Senate races. D's support the troops in matters that count; R's
don't... it's that simple.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush has been seriously
He wasn't saying "stay the course." He was saying...
... "Stay with the corpse." Or perhaps "Slay the Corps." Or maybe...
I am so damned sick of losing nearly 100 American troops a month in a totally lost cause that has
never had anything to do... or at least not anything positive to do... with America's security.
This is far beyond political. This is obscene.
Make it stop. Make it stop.
Firefox 2.0 - First Impression
Two words: spell checker. (Hermione probably doesn't need one, but the rest of us certainly do.)
Yes, I know, there have been spell checker add-ons available in the past, add-ons that were hedged
about with warnings and complicated instructions and so on, but now it's built directly into Firefox.
Another lifesaver: a Recently Closed Tabs list. How often have we all closed a browser or a
tab by mistake, then had to chase down the URL for it. No more.
Mozilla developers have taken one good idea and made it better. Firefox already had the ability to
save a whole screenful of tabs as a folder of bookmarks, to be opened all at once later on. That was
extremely helpful to me in learning all the new technology I needed for my current contract. Firefox
2.0 expands on this capability, introducing their notion of a "browsing session" (not to be confused
with a "session" from a web server's perspective). Quoting from their Release Notes, "The Session
Restore feature restores windows, tabs, text typed in forms, and in-progress downloads from the last
user session." Shut it down; start it up... all of it... later. I like that idea.
Live Bookmarks still work, but for people like me who use Bloglines (or those who use Google or Yahoo
feed readers), there's now a more direct way to subscribe to a site's feed in a couple of clicks. IE7
has a similar feature. Feeds become a lot handier if one doesn't have to go chasing them and typing
long URLs into one's feed reader.
Well, enough with the features brag-list. Of course Firefox 2.0 has phishing protection and all the
other essential security stuff that IE7 has.
Cosmetically, Firefox 2.0 is a bit more... relaxed; that's the word that came to mind. The default
theme doesn't shout at you quite as much as the old one did. I am happy to see that the close-tab
button, the X, has been moved onto each individual tab, so that you don't have to focus on a tab to
close it. IE7 does that too; it may take a bit of getting used to, but it is unquestionably a good
change to the interface from a user's standpoint.
If you want Firefox 2.0, you'll have to go to the
Mozilla download page
to get it. It will not come to you automatically through Firefox 22.214.171.124 update service, even if you
check for updates. It will not be thrust upon you whether you want it or not... unlike some browsers I
could name. If you just want to know what you're getting, take a look at the
Once again, I am content with what the Firefox team has produced... and I'm especially glad it runs my
current client's app with no apparent hassles, again unlike another recent browser I could name.
UPDATE: Here's my first real complaint. Although the Options dialog
shows that the default is to open a clicked link in a new window, the actual default is to open it in
a new tab. In a HaloScan box, this has disastrous results. You'll have to open Tools|Options, change
that option to "open in a new tab" (what you don't want), change it back to "open in a new
window" and click OK. From then on, it will behave as advertised. Sigh. There's always one more bug...
Internet Explorer 7 - First Impression
I have spent much of the day using Internet Explorer 7, primarily because I need to adapt the
application I'm working on so that it works in that new browser. As everyone... well, nearly
everyone... who uses Windows is about to have IE7 installed this week, willy-nilly, via Windows
Update, I thought my first impressions might be of use to some of you.
Right up front, let me admit that I am a Firefox fan. Firefox 2.0 will be available tomorrow (timed
to upstage IE7? who knows), and I may or may not review it, depending on whether this major revision
has new features worthy of comment.
of the Houston Chronicle, who just about always has his head on straight about technology matters,
does an excellent side-by-side review of the two browsers, and despite his fondness for IE7, declares
Firefox 2.0 the overall "winner" by the numbers. If you plan to use primarily one browser, please read
his article; your time will be well spent.
I plan no such competitive review. Just as I do not change partners when a new model with fancier
buttons walks by, I do not lightly change default browsers. Firefox was a big deal from the outset,
and the reasons for adopting it were compelling. While scarcely objective, Silverman's comparison is
much less... partisan... than anything I could write. Absent utter disaster in the 2.0 release of
Firefox, I'm dancin' with them as brung me. But I still have plenty to say about IE7.
I broke IE7 today. I mean, I locked it up so tightly that only Task Manager could remove it from my
display. How did I do that? Did I visit some exotic web site that pushed the limits of current
technology? Decide for yourself: I was browsing a number of microsoft.com articles about (curiously
enough) IE7 from a developer's perspective, and clicked one of their own links to an offsite article.
I admit that I had perhaps 7 or 8 tabs open, and that I middle-clicked to open the article in a new
tab. But there is no getting around the fact that I crashed the sucker by performing a very ordinary
And IE7 broke my application today. I admit that the app was pushing the limits, doing some rather
worked fine in IE6 and in Firefox 126.96.36.199. Much of the time I spent in front of IE7 today was in a
series of attempts to resolve this problem. I succeeded, after a fashion... but I'm still looking over
So IE7 and I are one-and-one, tied, in the inevitably adversarial relationship between a web developer
and any new browser. I'd say it could have been worse, but I still don't know what lurks in the
shadows, waiting to get me right after a production release of the app.
What's good about IE7? Lots.
First of all, it's pretty. I didn't say I am not drawn to nice buttons and fine styles, only that such
things are not a good reason to change partners, um, I mean, browsers. Honestly, the Yellow Doggerel
Democrat looks better in IE7 than in Firefox 188.8.131.52 or IE6. The rounded, sculpted look of the
interface is appealing. And the use of ClearType™ font technology wherever possible makes the
text very legible.
Second, from a developer's standpoint as well as a user's, AJAX applications (Web 2.0 applications,
or choose whatever term you like... applications that continue to interact with the server after a
page is served, providing the user information updated on an ongoing basis, or interactivity without
the disturbance of serving a new page) run subjectively much faster in IE7 than in IE6 or Firefox
184.108.40.206, which was easily the champion until now. This is a big deal for me, as my app updates,
in the worst case, hundreds of fields on the display every few seconds.
Finally, there's this fact: We. Have. No. Choice. Those of us who use Windows boxes will get
this upgrade sooner or later, and must live with it. Smug Mac users must deal with the fact that all
web developers... every blessed one of us... will adapt our code to work in IE7. If we can do it by
conforming to standards, well and good, and supposedly IE7 is a lot more standards-compliant than IE6.
If not, we will accommodate the 800-pound gorilla any way we have to. Love it or hate it, IE is the
dominant player in the browser market, and hence we all have an incentive to assist Microsoft in
making IE7 work as well as possible.
Tomorrow, Firefox 2.0 ... unless I'm chasing IE7-induced bugs in my client's app, in which case I
cannot promise much of anything.
Make My Arm Like The Other One
That very old, cruel joke bears altogether too much resemblance to the phenomenon that Jack Balkin
describes in his post
Parallel Tracks in the National Surveillance State.
In brief, Balkin asserts that the problem with a parallel judicial apparatus like that created by the
Military Commissions Act, in addition to its being un-American, unconstitutional, immoral, ineffective
and bad for national security, is that it has a tendency to influence the traditional systems of
justice in the direction of the newly created system, with its relaxed rules of evidence, its
admission of secret evidence unavailable to the defense, and arguably worst of all, its tolerance of
evidence obtained by coercion.
Please read Balkin's expansion of this theme; it is guaranteed to cure any good mood you may find
... and all I got was this lousy slip of paper:
Today is our first day of early voting. I voted, with no real qualms, the straight Democratic ticket.
I know a fair number of those people myself. The ones I don't know are at least not part of the GOP
juggernaut. There are some local Republicans I can respect, some who haven't completely sold their
souls to the Bush cabal, but they will have plenty of votes from the machine (in either sense of that
word); I didn't even seriously think of voting for those few respectable GOPers that had no Democratic
opponents. Why encourage them!
Some of my friends, including some Democrats, voted for Kinky. I'm sorry, but Kinky is not competent
to be governor... even governor of Texas, of which Molly Ivins says, "how hard can it be?" I like
Kinky's good-natured detective novels, his music and his efforts in behalf of animals, but governing
is a real skill. Texas has survived incompetent governors several times before, including You-Know-Who
before he took office in Washington. Texas has even survived governors (*cough* Rick Perry
*cough*) whose leadership skills are so bad they can't even forge a consensus among legislators of
their own party. But there is no need to push matters by electing another incompetent governor.
I wonder where my vote is now... metaphorically speaking, of course. Where are those bits stored
today? When will they be downloaded? Where will they reside between now and Election Day? If we had
paper ballots, I wouldn't have to worry about those questions... other questions, yes, but not those
questions. From time to time in my life, I've had pieces of paper "vanish," at least from my scope of
awareness. But I've had bits vanish and/or become corrupted literally thousands of times. Bits are
vastly more easily changed than paper. I think that's why the GOP prefers bits for ballots.
Brain Full Of Bytes
Among the many things I've learned in the course of nearly ten wonderful years with Stella, I have
come to understand that technobabble is of little or no interest to people not involved with... no,
not just technology in general, but the specific technology that generates the babble. It's not that
I haven't been aware of this in the past, but the necessity of specific involvement in a technology
to generate interest in that technology is a relatively new notion for me: I'm one of those people
who are typically interested in just about anything tech-related. Stella is technologically aware,
even adept, in her work, and uses devices and software about which I have no clue. What I've learned
with her is that my babbling on about what I do for a livelihood, in more than the most minimal
detail, does not serve to improve our communication. Fortunately, we have plenty of other things to
At the moment, I truly have a "brain full of bytes." My work has made a transition from the complex
and difficult to the mundane, but the quantity has not lessened. Thank goodness, I might add; a
contractor lives by the mundane details that inevitably accompany every project. To paraphrase an old
saw, the virtual job is never finished until the virtual paperwork is done. I'm deep in the virtual
paperwork at the moment. (Feel free to make any rude references that occur to you; I assure you I've
What this means is that I've spent most of two days thinking about matters far removed from politics
and government. Well, I've thought about politics and government, but I've had no real opportunity to
saturate myself in them to the point of writing about them.
So I'll spare you the technobabble. If you want to feel good, go look at
NTodd's critter pics,
especially the one of Vinnie and Mex. If you want something a great deal more serious, try this column,
Hell and Back,
by Chris Rose, a Times-Picayune reporter very active in post-Katrina reporting, about his descent into
deep clinical depression, and what it took for him to survive it. Either way, your time will be better
spent than it would be in reading geek talk.
Sign Of Our Times
If you see warning signs of your own, realize them at
Goodbye Habeas Corpus
Well, that didn't take long. We should have known they would act quickly. From a
Once President Bush signed the new law on military tribunals, administration officials and Republican
leaders in Congress wasted no time giving Americans a taste of the new order created by this
Within hours, Justice Department lawyers notified the federal courts that they no longer had the
authority to hear pending lawsuits filed by attorneys on behalf of inmates of the penal camp at
Guantánamo Bay. They cited passages in the bill that suspend the fundamental principle of habeas
corpus, making Mr. Bush the first president since the Civil War to take that undemocratic step.
Not satisfied with having won the vote, Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, quickly issued a
statement accusing Democrats who opposed the Military Commissions Act of 2006 of putting “their
liberal agenda ahead of the security of America.” He said the Democrats “would gingerly pamper the
terrorists who plan to destroy innocent Americans’ lives” and create “new rights for terrorists.”
You'd better not say that to my face, Mr. Speaker.
Hastert can take his faulty history... habeas corpus is not a "new right" for anyone... and
put it wherever he keeps his faulty memory of concealing his Republican colleague's sexual harassment
of congressional pages. But this is not primarily a political post. I have two purposes here: first,
to note that Bush and his handlers did not delay even a day after passage of the MCA before beginning
to deprive detainees of their fundamental right, protected under U.S. as well as international law, to
challenge their detention; second, to point out a statement in this NYT editorial that is presented as
undisputed fact, but which is actually the subject of considerable debate in the legal community:
The law does not apply to American citizens, but it does apply to other legal United States residents.
says the matter is not that clear at all:
The Act even allows U.S. citizens to be subjected to this treatment (though the Supreme Court's
decision in Hamdi likely requires for U.S. citizens some opportunity to challenge the detention)
because even American citizens can be declared to be "unlawful enemy combatants" under the statute
(see Sec. 3(a)(1)(1)). All anyone has to do is read the Act and it is immediately and undeniably
apparent that it does not provide the right to be tried that Kondrake told the Fox audience it
And later in an update:
But there is some dispute over the scope of the powers vested in the President with regard to U.S.
citizens. Some say that the Act does not clearly expand the President's detention powers with regard
to U.S. citizens and others claim it does. I believe it does, for reasons I set forth in
(the entire discussion in the comment section on this issue is excellent -- with many knowledgeable
people participating -- and should be read by anyone interested in the issue).
The link is to Greenwald's own comment within the thread, in which he clarifies his reasons for
believing that the new law does include U.S. citizens designated "unlawful enemy combatants":
There is no question, as I noted above, that the military commissions created by the Act have
jurisdiction only over "aliens," and not U.S. citizens. Thus, U.S. citizens could not be tried before
the commissions created by the Act; all other detainees can be.
But it is equally clear that the definition of "unlawful enemy combatant" in Sec. 948a applies to "any
person" who meets the criteria. In contrast to the other provisions which are expressly limited to
"aliens," this provision is not. It seems clear, then, that it is intended to encompass U.S. citizens,
and does so on the face of its language.
There's much more; please read Greenwald's entire comment. Indeed, the entire thread is worth your
My own thinking, not as a lawyer but as one who has read a lot about matters of fundamental rights and
how they are encoded in American and international law, is that neither our Bill of Rights nor the
Geneva Conventions allow the U.S. to limit rights to American citizens: not only any citizen, not
only any legal resident, but also every person in U.S. custody has those rights. But any person who
is detained and is explicitly prevented from challenging his detention in a court of law effectively
has no other rights worth mentioning. That is what habeas corpus is all about. That is why
the explicit denial in the Military Commissions Act of habeas corpus review is arguably the
biggest denial of fundamental rights... to citizens or noncitizens... in recent U.S. history.
And that is why Mr. Bush and his handlers wanted this law. Their willingness to apply it immediately
is proof enough of that for me.
Why was this serious matter not thoroughly debated before this odious and probably
unconstitutional law was passed?
Friday Repossession Blogging
Samantha's possessed, and not for the first time...
... I suppose she forgot to pay the exorcist again, and got repossessed. (Yeah, I know; that joke is
ancient. So sue me!)
Activate Cloaking Device!
an American and British research team including Duke University's David Schurig is well on its way to
building one. They have a proof-of-concept working model that imperfectly conceals a copper cylinder
from microwaves, mostly hiding both the object's shadow and its reflection, and they say they know how
to build a better one. Concealment from visible light, they say, is just a matter of time.
Possible military needs notwithstanding, I'm sure the team won't get any money from a GOP-dominated
Congress until they build a Cloakroom Device that completely conceals GOPers' taking of bribes from
Selected Links To Recent Posts
Click any permalink below to go to the original article on a previous page.
Click a comment link below to add a comment to the original article.
Your comment will be noticed, by the YDD at least:
HaloScan has a page allowing me to view recent comments, no matter which post they refer to.
Where Is My October Surprise?
Olbermann On Bush's Signing Of MCA
Almost Funny... Almost
Sorry; no more... the fog is breaking up. I can see clearly now...
Un-American - UPDATED
ACLU v. Scalia
Early Friday Ten Feet Blogging
Blog RSS 0.91
Better the occasional faults of a government that lives
in a spirit of charity than the constant omissions of a
government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.
I belong to the Democratic Party wing of the Democratic Party.
- Paul Wellstone
I am a Democrat without prefix, without suffix, and without apology.
- Sam Rayburn